Bok choy can be eaten raw with dips or chopped and used in salads. Cooking bok choy on the stove top is simple. Since it soon becomes limp when cooking, sauté it quickly over high heat until the leaves become tender while the stalks remain crisp. Chinese cabbage, also known as Napa cabbage, is delicious in chopped salads and Asian slaws. Alternatively, cut it into strips about 1 to 1½ inches wide and add it to stir-fries.
When shopping for bok choy, look for firm white stalks and green leaves that aren’t wilted or yellowed. Baby bok choy is smaller, paler green, and more tender than mature bok choy. Chinese cabbage should feel somewhat heavy for its size, with no yellowing, browning, or wilting. Bok choy and Chinese cabbage will keep in a plastic bag for five to seven days in the fridge. To clean bok choy, chop off just enough of the base of the bok choy plant so that you can clean the stalks and leaves individually under cool running water. To prep Chinese cabbage, cut the head in half lengthwise, then cut out and discard the core at the bottom center. Separate the leaves and wash them individually.
Both vegetables are highly nutritious, too. They’re rich in bone-building calcium as well as vitamins A and C, folic acid, iron, and potassium. The latter helps keep your muscles and nerves working properly, and also helps to control blood pressure.
Chinese cabbage and bok choy can also help fight against cancer. They’re cruciferous vegetables that contain sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinols (I3Cs). These two powerful anticancer molecules help the body detoxify carcinogenic substances, help prevent precancerous cells from turning cancerous, and help block the growth of tumors.
Bok choy and Chinese cabbage also contain antioxidant plant compounds known as carotenoids. Antioxidants prevent damage from free radicals, the waste products our bodies produce when cells use fuel to create energy. Since our brains use a lot of fuel, they’re particularly vulnerable to free-radical damage. While all plant-based antioxidants benefit your brain, cruciferous vegetables such as bok choy and Chinese cabbage are extra-effective: In a recent Harvard Medical School study, women who ate the most cruciferous vegetables lowered their brain age by one to two years.
Here’s a selection of dishes using Chinese cabbage and bok choy, courtesy of the Rodale Recipe Finder:
#1: Wasabi Salmon Salad. Serve this flavorful wild-salmon-and-yogurt salad on a bed of Chinese cabbage or bok choy. For an extracrisp, zingy salad, create a Chinese Cabbage Salad with crunchy Chinese noodles, slivered almonds, and an Asian dressing. Alternatively, beans add protein and heft to this Napa Cabbage and Red Bean Salad with Orange-Miso Dressing.
#2: Wild Salmon Cakes with Asian Cucumber Cabbage Slaw. Pair salmon patties or turkey burgers with cool, crispy Chinese cabbage slaw.
#3: Sesame-Crusted Sole with Baby Bok Choy and Wild Rice. Both bok choy and Chinese cabbage add a fresh touch alongside entrées as varied as varied as sole, tuna steaks, scallops, beef, and tofu.
#4: Shrimp-and-Vegetable Stir-Fry. For a classic stir-fry that’s quick and easy to prepare, toss shrimp together with bok choy, water chestnuts, red bell pepper, and baby corn. Or enjoy an easily-made medley of Asian vegetables by cooking Chinese Vegetables in Cabbage.
#5: Szechuan Noodles and Bok Choy. Try this spicy vegetarian noodle dish, or a meat version made with ground pork.